Louisiana-Monroe vs. Auburn: Complete Game Preview
What was supposed to be a game that was going to be an easy win and a warmup for LSU has turned into a big game for the Auburn football program.
Last week, the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks marched into Little Rock, Arkansas and beat the eighth-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks.
Auburn had one of its worst performances in recent history, as it lost to Mississippi State, 28-10, in Starkville.
Auburn fans are growing anxious with a sputtering offense and performances that hint towards a poorly-coached team.
Louisiana-Monroe has a history of beating SEC teams. Auburn fans will remember that the Warhawks beat Nick Saban's Crimson Tide in Bryant-Denny Stadium in 2007. They also beat Mississippi State in 1995. Auburn is going to try to avoid becoming the next SEC West team to fall to the Warhawks.
Auburn will be attempting to get its first win of the season and open up its home schedule in a positive way on Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium at 11:21 a.m.
You want information on Saturday's game? All you need to know is right here....
Who: Louisiana-Monroe at Auburn
When: Saturday, 11:21 a.m. (CST)
Where: Auburn, AL
Stadium: Jordan-Hare Stadium (87,451)
TV: SEC Network. Find a full list of affiliates here.
Radio: Auburn IMG Radio Network. Find a full list of affiliates here.
Internet Stream: A video stream of the game can be found on ESPN3.com. A radio stream can be found on Auburntigers.com (subscription required).
Depth Chart for Auburn
QB: Kiehl Frazier—Clint Moseley—Jonathan Wallace
RB: Onterio McCalebb—Tre Mason—Mike Blakely
FB: Jay Prosch—Blake Burgess
WR: Emory Blake—Sammie Coates—Ricardo Louis
WR: Trovon Reed—OR—Travante Stallworth
WR: Quan Bray—Jaylon Denson
TE: Phillip Lutzenkirchen—Brandon Fulse—C.J. Uzomah
LT: Greg Robinson—Shon Coleman
LG: John Sullen—Alex Kozan
C: Reese Dismukes—Tunde Fariyike
RG: Chad Slade—Christian Westerman
RT: Avery Young—Patrick Miller
DE: Dee Ford—Craig Sanders—Nosa Eguae
DT: Angelo Blackson—Kenneth Carter—Devaunte Sigler
DT: Jeffrey Whitaker—Gabe Wright—Tyler Nero
DE: Corey Lemonier—Ladarius Owens
SLB: Jonathan Evans—Justin Garrett
MLB: Jake Holland—Ashton Richardson
WLB: Daren Bates—Kris Frost
CB: Chris Davis—Jonathan Mincy
FS: Demetruce McNeal—Ryan Smith
SS: Jermaine Whitehead—Trent Fisher
CB: T'Sharvan Bell—Ryan White
PK: Cody Parkey—Alex Kvicklys
P: Steven Clark—J.D. Strawbridge
H: Ryan White—Steven Clark
DS: Jake Lembke—Forrest Hill
KR: Onterio McCalebb—Quan Bray
PR: Quan Bray—Trovon Reed
Depth Chart for Louisiana-Monroe
QB: Kolton Browning—Cody Wells
RB: Jyruss Edwards—Mitchell Bailey
WR: Je’Ron Hamm—Tony Cook
WR: Brent Leonard—Tyler Cain
WR: Colby Harper—Julian Griffin
TE: Keavon Milton—Harley Scioneaux
LT: Joseph Treadwell—Jeremy Burton
LG: Jon Fisher—Ben Risenhoover
C: Josh Allen—Colby Mitchell
RG: Jonathan Gill—Elliot Hilliard
RT: Demiere Burkett—Jamal Danley
DE: Kentarius Caldwell—Malcolm Edmond
NT: Gerrand Johnson—Emanuel Jefferies
DE: Joey Gautney—Darius Livley
LB: DaCorris Ford—Ray Stovall
LB: R.J. Young—Hunter Kissinger
LB: Cameron Blakes—Cody Robinson
CB: Rob’Donovan Lewis—Otis Peterson
S: Cordero Smith—Henry Mitchell
H: Mitch Lane—Brandon Hardy
S: Isaiah Newsome—Roland Veal
CB: Vincent Eddie—Trey Caldwell
K: Justin Manton—Connor Fryoux
P: Justin Manton—Connor Fryoux
LS: Madison Tharp—Ben Risenhoover
SS: Ben Risenhoover—Madison Tharp
H: Cody Wells—Connor Fryoux
KR: Cortney Davis—Jyruss Edwards
PR: Brent Leonard—Tyler Cain
What Happened to the Auburn Tigers Last Week
Auburn dropped its second game of the year last weekend to Mississippi State, 28-10. It was one of the more ugly performances by the Tigers in the Gene Chizik era.
Auburn struggled all day to get any type of momentum on offense as the Bulldogs defense forced Auburn quarterback Kiehl Frazier to beat them with his arm. Frazier was unsuccessful and the Tigers' offense failed to find the end zone.
Frazier turned the ball over five times, including three interceptions. His final line was 13-for-22 with 125 yards passing.
Mike Blakely came onto the scene and led Auburn in rushing with 42 yards on 11 carries. Tre Mason did not see as many carries last week, even after breaking the 100-yard mark in Week 1 against Clemson. Mason rushed eight times for 25 yards this week.
Auburn's scoring was courtesy of a kickoff return by Onterio McCalebb to begin the second half and a first-half field goal by Cody Parkey.
The defense played well in the first half, holding Mississippi State to only seven points. Brian Van Gorder's unit appeared to wear down in the second half, though. The secondary allowed a Mississippi State receiver to get behind it twice after halftime.
After poor tackling in Week 1 against Clemson, Auburn showed some improvement in that area against Mississippi State, for three quarters anyway.
Overall, the Bulldogs had 388 yards of offense. 222 yards came via quarterback Tyler Russell's arm. Ladarius Perkins led the Bulldogs in rushing with 83 yards.
What Happened to Louisiana-Monroe Last Week
Auburn has no reason to overlook Louisiana-Monroe.
The Warhawks shocked the college football world when they upset then eighth-ranked Arkansas, 34-31, last weekend.
Auburn fans know that this is not Louisiana-Monroe's first victory over a member of the SEC West. ULM beat Nick Saban and Alabama in 2007. They also beat Mississippi State in 1995.
The Arkansas offensive line gave quarterback Tyler Wilson zero protection in the first half, and it led to him sitting out the second half with a head injury.
Still, Arkansas had a two-touchdown lead going into the fourth quarter.
They could not hold on, and the Warhawks tied up the game late in the fourth and took the game to overtime. In overtime, Arkansas had the ball first and settled for a field goal.
For Louisiana-Monroe, it went for it on 4th-and-1, and quarterback Kolton Browning took the ball in for a touchdown.
Browning threw the ball 67 times for 412 yards against the Razorbacks. He completed 42 of those 67 passes. We have not confirmed if his arm is still attached after that many throws. If it is, you can expect more of the same against an Auburn secondary that has been picked on the first two games.
Arkansas struggled on defense for the second straight week. There were times it struggled against FCS opponent Jacksonville State University in Week 1. The Warhawks from the Sun Belt conference picked up 558 yards of total offense on the day.
What It Means to Both Teams
The Auburn football team is desperate for something positive to happen in this young season. Two weeks of poor execution and poor fundamentals already have some fans inexplicably wanting to make a coaching change two games into the season.
If Auburn has its third poor performance on Saturday and either loses or wins a nail-biter, those groans will become deafening.
After watching the Warhawks beat Arkansas, Auburn should realize that this is a team it cannot mess around with this weekend.
If Auburn loses this game, it will most likely have an 0-4 record for the month of September, and any chance at a bowl would be slim. LSU comes to Jordan-Hare on September 22.
If Auburn can win this game, and do it in a business-like fashion, then the griping can be muted for at least one week. Auburn will be happy with a win regardless of what it looks like, but a win with poor play will not do anything to pump positivity into the Auburn program.
For Louisiana-Monroe, it can have its best season in school history. It has not had a winning season since 1980 and never played in a bowl game. Following the game against Auburn, the Warhawks play Baylor before getting into Sun Belt conference play.
Key Player for Auburn
For the second straight week, the key player for Auburn is quarterback Kiehl Frazier. How can it be anyone different? We could say the offensive line is the key player. They're protection has been better than expected, though. Frazier moves out of the pocket too quick because he feels pressure and he panics.
We saw what happens when teams force Auburn to throw the ball last weekend. This Auburn offense goes as Frazier goes, and that is why he is the key player.
Frazier is hearing gripes about his play just like Gene Chizik is about his coaching. Fans love the quarterback when he is successful, but when the quarterback struggles, the popular thought is always that the backup could do better.
This is Frazier's show. There is no one else. We know about Clint Moseley's shoulder issues. If the coaches decide to pull the red shirt off of Jonathan Wallace, then we will hear calls for Frazier to return shortly thereafter. Frazier was chosen for a reason. He is the best option despite what your favorite message board poster says.
Frazier must get comfortable in the pocket this week, and making a mistake on 75 percent of the plays will result in an Auburn loss.
We have a baseline to judge Frazier off of. Saturday was as low as it gets. The question is, will we see progression or regression from that baseline?
Key Player for Louisiana-Monroe
If you were told that the preseason second team All-Sun Belt conference quarterback would be the best quarterback on the field in Jordan-Hare Stadium this Saturday, would you believe it? You better believe it, because it's the truth.
Junior quarterback Kolton Browning was the difference in the Warhawks' upset of Arkansas last weekend. He slung the ball all over the field. He completed 42 passes out of 67 attempts for 412 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He also scored the game-winning touchdown in overtime with his legs on a 16-yard touchdown run.
Browning will likely attack the Auburn secondary in similar ways. Auburn has played very soft coverage in the first two weeks, giving receivers five to 10 yards of cushion. If Auburn gives that much cushion this weekend, expect more of the same type of statistics for Browning. The Auburn defense has given up 430 yards of passing through the first two games of 2012.
In 2010, Browning was a freshman and came into Jordan-Hare Stadium and completed 25 of his 33 passes for 203 yards.
Auburn Will Win If....
Auburn will win this weekend if it does two things. The offensive line must give Kiehl Frazier more time, and offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler must open up the playbook and become more aggressive.
Last weekend, Louisiana-Monroe put pressure on Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson for the entire first half. It resulted in Wilson being knocked out of the game due to a head injury.
As uncomfortable as Kiehl Frazier looked last weekend, ULM will likely bring the same type of pressure all day long to make him uncomfortable once again. The Auburn offensive line must give Frazier enough protection to make decisions.
Frazier blamed a lot of his problems last Saturday on looking too much at the pass rush and not downfield at his receivers.
“I knew they had a good defensive front coming in,” Frazier said. “I would drop back, and I would leave my drop and watch the rush a little too much. That caused arid balls, and that’s probably why I had those three picks" (via Ethan Bernel, Montgomery Advertiser)
Secondly, Scot Loeffler will have to open up the playbook. Loeffler has been too conservative up to this point and must attack the defense more despite his mistrust of Frazier.
That mistrust was never more apparent then on multiple third downs and long, a handoff or draw play was called when it was an obvious passing play.
Coming from someone who has never called an offensive play in his life, Loeffler needs to put Frazier in more shotgun formations, where he is more comfortable and give him more time to make reads. Frazier has not reached an acceptable comfort level to drop back and read defenses.
Louisiana-Monroe Will Win If...
Louisiana-Monroe will win on Saturday if it controls the ball the way that it did against Arkansas. The Warhawks held the ball for 39 minutes and 19 seconds. Compare that to Arkansas' time of possession of 20 minutes and 41 seconds.
Louisiana-Monroe ran 103 offensive plays. That is enough to even make Gus Malzahn more than satisfied. On a side note, ULM plays Gus Malzahn and Arkansas State on November 8 of this year. If you like offense, you may want to tune in.
In the third quarter alone, Louisiana-Monroe held the ball for 11 minutes and two seconds. That gave Arkansas only three minutes and 58 seconds with the ball.
If Louisiana-Monroe can control the time of possession battle in this one like it did last week, Louisiana-Monroe will defeat its second SEC West foe in as many weeks.
Prediction: Auburn 20, Louisiana-Monroe 13
There's every reason in the world to pick Louisiana-Monroe in this matchup. Auburn has given us no reason to believe that it can play solid football for 60 minutes. The Tigers looked worse on Saturday than they ever have under Gene Chizik. Saturday was a new low.
With that said, the Tigers put their best game of the season together on Saturday in their home opener. All due respect to Louisiana-Monroe, but it had all summer to plan for the Arkansas game, and it ruined the surprise factor when they upset the Razorbacks. Auburn will not be caught looking ahead.
The Tigers will run more of Scot Loeffler's spread offensive package to get Kiehl Frazier comfortable throwing the ball. On defense, Auburn will be in nickel coverage most of the game. Brian Van Gorder's unit plays their best game of the year so far and holds the Warhawks to one touchdown and a couple of field goals.
Auburn wins 20-13 and gets its first win of the season on Saturday.